When we booked the super fast ferry we did not realize that it also meant that we, ourselves, had to be super fast. After a year of sedentary life, were I was learning that my spirit animal was a sloth, I was worried and unsure that my body could move with the speed required by the Greek man frantically waving his arm telling us to get on board like we were being chased by a marauding horde of Vikings wanting to add our cheap souvenirs to their treasured cache. None of this fit with the amazing slow paced life we were experiencing in Greece. Every person we met kept telling us “There’s no hurry, you're on vacation” but this man meant business. So we grabbed our bags and walked as fast as we could on to the ferry not stoping until we got to our seats.
Our trip started in Athens and we did not know what to expect. The country had just opened their doors to tourism and we were part of the few bold tourists that decided to venture back into the world not knowing what we would find. We did not need to worry as everyone we met was so glad to see “the Americans” coming back. The smiles where genuine and the joy was contagious and we started falling in love with Greece and the people we met. We stayed in the old neighborhood of Plaka in a top floor apartment with a balcony with views to the Acropolis.
Plaka is a picturesque old world neighborhood of Athens also known as the “neighborhood of the Gods” due to the many archeological sites and the proximity to the Acropolis. There are a number of restaurants to suit everyones budget along with shops, boutique stores and archeological sites to keep you occupied for days. The thing we always recommend everyone should do when exploring a new city is to hire a guide to give you a tour as it will help you get familiar with the city and everything it has to offer.
So, we hired a guide to take us around the Acropolis and other archeological sites in the historical center of Athens. The Acropolis meaning "high city", is one of the most famous ancient archeological sites in the world sitting on top of a limestone hill in Athens, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Acropolis was many things over the centuries, a home to kings, a citadel, a mythical home of the gods and religious center. With our guide leading the way, we climbed up the hill to see the Temple of Athena Nike, the Parthenon, the “Porch of the Maidens” on the Erectheion and other ruins. We had a great bird’s eye view of the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
Afterwards we visited the Ancient Agora of Athens where The Temple of Hephaestus is located and where Socrates taught his pupils Plato and Xenophon among others. We also visited Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Forum of Athens. As you can see there is a whole lot of sites to see and I won’t post every single one. Word of advice, take some water with you and wear comfortable clothing and especially very comfortable shoes!
Another tour that might be of interest is a food tour of traditional food and drinks of the country. Of course we did a food tour in Greece! Our Food tour guide Dimitri took us to all the different markets in Athens where all the locals go to buy their food for the day and where the restaurants also shop for their supplies. We learned about the different types of meat products and what dishes they are used for. Then we learned about some of the spices that are traditional in Greek cooking. Along the way we stoped at an olive and cheese stand where Shannon ate all the different olives and learned the region’s they were grown in and I admired them from afar. Yeah, I don’t like olives and yes I have tried them to make sure. Judging by the yummy sounds that Shannon was making and the fact that we have a jar full of olives from Greece in the fridge, they were amazing. The best part of the tour was walking down a back street and down a nondescript lane and ended up in a local taverna where we had Kolokithokeftedes with home made Tzatziki sauce and local white wine. These are zucchini balls or fritters made of grated zucchinis, feta cheese, dill, fresh peppermint and parsley. I am currently looking at a recipe and will be making some later on today. I probably posted a picture of them on Instagram.
We also tried a couple for different Gyros or Greek wraps at Tylixto and they make the best ones we tasted on our trip. They pride themselves on fresh meat and ingredients and it shows by the amount of people waiting in line to get a Gyro. We ended our tour next door at Lukumades and they make exactly that, Lukumades. These are bite-sized, crispy fried, fluffy dough balls and you can lather them in honey and pistachio, my favorite, or with any of the other toppings they offer. I will warn you now, they are super sweet and oh so so good. My mouth is watering just with the memory of them. I wonder if there’s a recipe for those too?
Leaving Athens behind, we took a short flight to the island of Mykonos were we had the pleasure of being the first ones to stay in the new family room at Mykonos Adonis Hotel. This boutique-style hotel has been family owned and operated since 1970 and it is perfectly located within walking distance of the historic center of Mykonos town. We were welcomed to the hotel by Vicky at reception and promptly checked in. Vicky then introduced us to Roz one of the owners. Then we were shown to our room and we immediately loved it. The room is large with two king sized beds, one in the main room and another upstairs in the top room that leads outside to the Jacuzzi.
Each room has their own bathroom and the main room also has a sauna. There’s plenty of luggage room and closet space for all your belongings. We also took a peak at some of the other rooms and they are just as spacious and well appointed. Every morning, we had our breakfast in the covered patio overlooking the water, it was stunning. We’ve had the pleasure of staying in some great accommodations and the Adonis is right there on the top of our list of places we would recommend in a heartbeat. We arrived as guests and left as family.
The majority of our time in Mykonos was spent doing one thing, lounging around the beach having a couple drinks and enjoying the water. There are several ways to get to the beach but our favorite way was to hire a ATV for the day and ride around the island looking for a beach to relax in. Elia beach was our first stop and it’s about a 30 minute drive from Mykonos town. We rented a couple lounge chairs and ordered some food and drinks from the Elia Mykonos Resort by the Sea. The lounge chairs where around 30 Euros and well worth the price and the food was reasonably priced and really good, big portions too!
On our second beach excursion we had to go to Paralia Agios Ioannis or for those of you who are fans of the movie Shirley Valentine, this is Shirley’s beach. If you haven’t seen the movie you should! Because it is known as Shirley’s beach, things are a bit more expensive here. I would suggest coming here and taking your photos and enjoy walking around for a bit and then heading to one of the other beaches to relax and enjoy the water.
If you’ve followed us for a while you know that we love history and exploring ruins. Located a short ferry ride from Mykonos is the Island of Delos, one of the most sacred places of ancient Greece. We hired a guide to takes us around the island and tell us the history of the island and the ruins. It’s known as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. It’s location near the heart of the Cyclades made it a major commercial and trading center in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. There are so many different ruins from temples dedicated to Zeus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hercules and several other important figures, as well as agoras, gymnasium, theater and a stadium. There’s also a sacred lake that was guarded by marble lions. The museum on the island houses artifacts from the on going excavation being done all around the island and it is where you can see the original marble lions that guarded the sacred lake, statues, mosaics and other finds. There’s so much to see that we have to go back in order to explore the rest of the ruins and see everything in the museum.
I will continue with the second half of our trip on another blogpost, where I will also let you know why that Greek Man on the ferry was waving frantically at us to get on the ferry. Please feel free to ask us any questions about our trip or for recommendations. Your feed back will help us better prepare or future blogpost.
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